In the late 1980s and early 1990s, actress Park Overall became a household name for playing the wise-cracking nurse Laverne Todd on the hit NBC sitcom Empty Nest.
The Southern spitfire was known for her quick one-liners and chemistry with her on-screen roommate, played by fellow sitcom legend Richard Mulligan. Empty Nest was a spinoff of the hugely popular Golden Girls and ran for 7 seasons from 1988 to 1995.
After Empty Nest ended, Park Overall seemed to disappear from the spotlight. Though she continued to act, taking roles in TV movies and guest appearances on shows like ER and Reba, Overall never found the same level of fame she had during her Empty Nest heyday.
Now, over 25 years after Empty Nest aired its final episode, what has happened to Park Overall? Where did she go and what is the talented comedienne up to today?
Born on March 15, 1957, in Horse Creek, Tennessee. She grew up in a household with parents who were both characters in their own right, making her childhood quite memorable.
Her mother was a college professor, known as Mrs. Robinson, and her father was a magistrate with a penchant for drinking. Despite his position, he was known for his unconventional decisions, such as releasing felons that the FBI had been chasing for years, much to their chagrin.
Overall’s early days also saw her in New York, where she took on a job at Alexander’s department store in the budget ladies handbags section, not out of passion but out of necessity.
This experience, while challenging, was a stepping stone that eventually led her to Los Angeles. It was in LA that Park felt the world truly opened up to her, marking the beginning of her love affair with the city and her blossoming career in acting.
One of her initial forays into the acting world was in “Skin,” an off-off-Broadway play centered around the lives of Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick.
She also showcased her talent in both the stage and film adaptations of Neil Simon’s “Biloxi Blues.” These roles paved the way for her eventual rise to fame.
“Empty Nest” was a beloved sitcom that aired on NBC from 1988 to 1995. Set in Miami, the show revolved around the life of pediatrician Dr. Harry Weston, portrayed by Richard Mulligan, who finds himself living alone after his wife passes away and his two adult daughters move out.
The show is a spinoff of the iconic series “The Golden Girls,” another NBC classic. While “The Golden Girls” centered around four older women sharing a home in Miami, “Empty Nest” shifted the focus to the neighboring house, where Dr. Harry Weston lived. The connection between the two shows was established through several crossover episodes, allowing fans to see their favorite characters from both series interact.
Enter Laverne Higby Todd Kane, played by the talented Park Overall. Laverne was Dr. Weston’s no-nonsense, wise-cracking nurse hailing from Hickory, Arkansas.
With her thick Southern accent and a penchant for delivering sharp one-liners, Laverne quickly became a fan favorite.
Her character was a perfect foil to Dr. Weston’s often befuddled demeanor. Laverne was not just a nurse; she was Dr. Weston’s confidante, friend, and often the voice of reason in the chaotic Weston household.
Whether she was offering unsolicited advice, sharing tales of her eccentric family back in Arkansas, or simply bantering with Dr. Weston and his daughters, Laverne was a central figure in the “Empty Nest” universe.
“Empty Nest” enjoyed a successful run, spanning seven seasons with a total of 170 episodes. Throughout its tenure from 1988 to 1995, the show delved into the comedic and heartfelt moments of Dr. Weston’s life, with Park Overall’s character, Laverne, playing a pivotal role.
After “Empty Nest” concluded, Park Overall sustained her acting momentum with a series of roles across film and television. She starred in the TV series “Katie Joplin” (1999) as the main character for 5 episodes.
In the same year, she appeared in the TV movie “The Price of a Broken Heart” and took on the role of Claire Stiles in “Ladies Man” (1999-2000) for 8 episodes.
Park then featured in TV movies such as “When Andrew Came Home” (2000) and “Alligator Point” (2003). She also played Lori Ann in the TV series “Reba” (2001-2002) for 7 episodes. Her film roles included appearances in “To Kill a Mockumentary” (2004) and “Beer for My Horses” (2008).
Foray Into Politics
In 2012, Park Overall announced her intention to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, representing the Democratic party.
Park’s political beliefs are rooted in her support for welfare, food stamps, and the underprivileged. Despite her candid acknowledgment of the slim chances of her winning, given her progressive stances, she remained undeterred.
She would eventually lose the bid but she would remain firm in her commitment to the betterment of society.
Where Is Park Overall Today?
Park Overall has stepped away from acting and has been a passionate advocate for environmental and women’s rights. She has actively supported various environmental causes, especially those affecting her native East Tennessee.
In recent years, Overall has been a vocal critic of Nuclear Fuel Services and its uranium processing complex in Erwin, Tennessee.
She has been actively involved in raising awareness about the potential environmental impacts of this plant and has taken legal steps to ensure transparency and accountability from the plant’s operators, emphasizing the importance of public knowledge regarding its operations and potential hazards.
Park’s activism is not limited to environmental concerns. She identifies herself as a liberal and is vocal about her political beliefs.
Despite being surrounded by contrasting political views in her current residence, she uses platforms like Facebook as a means to spread liberal messages, aiming to bridge the gap with far-right conservative Christians in her community.